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Hancock gives preliminary OK for property sale

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Council gave preliminary approval for the sale of the former Neil’s Taxi property on Franklin Street Wednesday night.

The sole proposal submitted to the city came from Andrew Lahti Contracting. Lahti plans to convert the space to three 1,400-foot townhouses with a ground-floor garage.

Lahti plans to have construction done over the summer, with spaces ready for occupancy by this fall. He said he plans to rent the space.

Hancock took the property out of the tax sale system in order to direct its next use, Councilor John Haeussler said.

“I think what Mr. Lahti is proposing is a wonderful proposal,” he said. “I’m happy that he responded to the (request for proposal) and I’m really happy that he is proposing a residential development. I think that’s a big plus to add to our downtown area.”

Mayor Paul LaBine also backed the proposal.

“It’s nice to see somebody taking some initiative in the city here with these development projects,” he said.

Haeussler suggested adding a reverter clause that would give the property back to the city if the buyer can’t meet certain conditions in time. He suggested a minimum of 3,200 square feet, which Lahti’s proposal already meets, as well as a requirement that it be used for residential space. The city would then release the reverter clause once conditions were met.

“My thought would be to establish something that would in no way impede Mr. Lahti’s ability to get something done but it would protect the city should something unforeseen arise,” he said.

The minimum bid for the property was $5,000. City Manager Mary Babcock said the price covers what the city paid for it plus a portion of the cost of cleaning up the lot, including tires.

Lahti said there were two parking spots in the garage, while additional vehicles could use the city lot across the street. He also owns an adjacent parking lot, he said.

The council voted 6-0 for preliminary approval, with Councilor Ron Blau abstaining.

There will be a public hearing before a final vote of the sale on March 3.

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